As if it wasn’t obvious, Gary Kasparov summarizes it very well in today’s WSJ:
Mr. Obama has already decided to continue his policy of disengagement from the Middle East, and his platitudes about cooperation and the rule of law rang hollow in the U.N.’s General Assembly hall. Of the conflict in Syria, he said, “we must recognize that there cannot be, after so much bloodshed, so much carnage, a return to the prewar status quo.” But every listener was aware that Mr. Obama had no intention of backing his words with action.
Mr. Putin, speaking about an hour later in the same room, included his usual NATO-bashing and obvious lies. “We think it is an enormous mistake,” Mr. Putin said, “to refuse to cooperate with the Syrian government and its armed forces, who are valiantly fighting terrorism face to face.” He spoke of national sovereignty—which is very important to Mr. Putin, unless it’s the sovereignty of Georgia, Ukraine or another place where he wishes to meddle.
In other words, Mr. Obama’s speech was routine because he knows he will not act. Mr. Putin’s speech was routine because he knows he will act anyway.
And that final sentence is the best capsule of the two opposing foreign policies you’re likely to see. Mr. Obama has always been long on words – that is “talking the talk”. But he’s almost never bothered to “walk the walk”. In international politics that’s interpreted as a huge weakness. Consequently, his lack of action (i.e. backing up his words) has been constantly tested for reaction. And the reaction has always been … more words (or more “red lines”).
One of the major reasons for the rise of ISIS is the poorly thought out American withdrawal from Iraq after the Obama administration took over. With the withdrawal came the abandonment of the Sunni minority there that had been key to the Anbar Awakening that had helped make the surge a success and stabilize Iraq. ISIS was a direct result of that abandonment. One of the key questions asked by Sunni leaders to American commanders before they committed to the Awakening was, “are you going to stay”. Obama’s policy put “lie” to their promises. Now, after failing to act when ISIS first rose and trying to blame others for the rise, the administration wants a part in the defeat of ISIS (which, by the way, will have to be much more of an effort that an occasional air strike, if it is to succeed).
But there’s this “words over action” problem that Obama suffers from that certainly erodes any confidence in the viability of any US involvement. In international politics, action speaks louder than words and Mr. Putin is and has taken action. Whether or not you agree with his action or want to see Russia involved in the Middle East isn’t the point. The point we should all understand is the weak and indecisive Middle Eastern policy that this administration has pursued has handed over it’s predominant role in the region with barely a whimper. Putin hasn’t forced his way through the door there. The US has willingly opened it and all but welcomed him in.
Kasparov has a brutal conclusion which I find hard to fault:
Mr. Putin didn’t say anything new at the U.N., because he didn’t need to. He knows that he has concrete assets that are more effective than mere words. He has tanks in Ukraine, jet fighters in Syria, and Barack Obama in the White House.
National Review has published an article by Victor Davis Hanson with three views of the Obama presidency. One view is that of an Obama partisan and presents his presidency in a positive light. The second is a decidedly non-partisan look that does precisely the opposite. However, there’s a third view that I find most appealing and frankly the most honest:
A third view of Obama is neither so rosy as the first nor so melodramatic as the second. Obama may well have been an unapologetic progressive wolf in centrist clothing, but mostly he was a continuation of what he had been in the past: an unimpressive state legislator, a one-term partisan senator without any accomplishments, a lackadaisical executive who in his own words had to worry most about not appearing lazy and distracted. Obama as president simply pushed the right progressive buttons, all the more easily once his own party lost the Congress and he was freed to sign executive orders that enraged his enemies and moved the country leftward. He cares little about the scandals involving the IRS, VA, AP, NSA, GSA, TSA, EPA, Benghazi, and the Secret Service, other than ensuring that they stay far away from his own godhead.
Mostly, President Obama likes the ceremonial perks of his office — the public spotlight to pick sports winners, the regal access to the links in sporty golf attire, the huge plane and entourage, the video clips of his catlike descent down the stairs of Air Force One, and the captive audiences for his often ahistorical and confused ramblings about America’s past and present shortcomings. Rarely has a president entered office so inexperienced and unprepared, yet with such great hopes and expectations among the public. That he squandered such good will through petty spite and inexperience should not be surprising, given his meager qualifications and thin résumé. Most of Obama’s career in community organizing, academia, and the Illinois legislature was predicated on leveraging his race, name, and unique background with the pretensions of liberal America to land opportunities for which he knew in advance that he would never be held accountable.
Make sure you read the other two views, but unlike some who are sure Obama is following some sort of plan to hurt America, I don’t find this man able to purposely do much of anything.
One of the warnings many of us threw out there early on is he’d never “run anything or done anything”. Think about it – his sole accomplishment before essentially running unopposed for and Illinois Senate seat, had been to write an autobiography. About what? Well, himself, of course. He was all about self-promotion. He is a first class narcissist as we’ve all discovered. He loved the campaign but not the work. He no sooner became an IL state senator, a poor one at best, than he began running for the US Senate. In the case of both senate seats he came with an extraordinarily thin resume. But, he was the right color with the right party at a time of two wars and an unpopular US president, and it just opened up for him. Once ensconced in the US Senate he almost immediately began running for President on an even thinner resume (heck, with the US Senate run, he could at least claim “experience” at a state level).
I find Hanson’s point about Obama liking the “ceremonial perks” of office over the work to be dead on. You’ve seen others remark about our “semi-retired” president. His lack of leadership qualities is staggering. And yet, there he is, in the Oval Office.
His domestic and foreign agendas have been a mish-mash of college dorm discussions and naive beliefs proffered by others equally as clueless (such as his former Secretary of State) combined to do enough harm that we’ll need years to overcome them. His inability to work within the system, mostly because he doesn’t seem to know or understand how, has left him frustrated. His manner of dealing with his frustration is spiteful childishness and unilateral action which, frankly, he doesn’t care whether its legal or not.
What concerns me more than the fact that he’s so incompetent and as Hanson says “inexperienced and unprepared” is that a significant portion of the population was gulled into voting for him the first time and then, apparently uncritically, re-elected the man for 4 more awful years.
We’ve certainly paid the price for that bit of emotional voting and lack of scrutiny.
But let’s also not forget who aided and abetted this travesty and the lack of scrutiny.
All you have to know to understand what institution that was is to know that Marco Rubio and his wife have had 17 tickets in 20 years and own a “luxury speed boat” while Hillary Clinton’s past is essentially ignored.
And, as you might have surmised, that institution is again cranking up its machine to give us another incompetent who has more baggage and corruption surrounding her than one can shake a stick at.
Forewarned is forearmed, not that it is likely to change much.
Or so the most recent Gallup poll says:
Yes, that’s right – climate change.
Notice the top “problem”, and apparently increasingly seen as such by more and more Americans.
Notice also that every other problem listed is one in which government has at least a finger in if not stuck in it up to the elbow.
Our public education system is not good – it’s run by the government. Our federal budget is a disaster – government ill-discipline. Foreign policy doesn’t exist – government malfeasance. Terrorism is increasing – government ineptitude. National security at risk – government incompetence. Race relations – government partisan bias. Poverty – government enabling. And healthcare – don’t even get me started. Etc. etc.
Every “problem” under the top problem have become more of a problem because of government meddling, incompetence, over-reach, bumbling, malfeasance or partisan bias.
And yet one of Obama’s stated goals as president was to again make big government “cool”.
Well, heck of a job there, Barack.
I’ve watched in horrified wonder these last few weeks as a man way over his head tries to act like he knows what he’s doing. But he’s not fooling anyone. Not even his most rabid supporters. The great, shrinking American President – Barack Obama.
Here are a couple of quotes he’s made which typify his vacuousness – something at which he is quite adept:
We know that if we are joined by the international community, we can continue to shrink ISIL’s sphere of influence, its effectiveness, its financing, its military capabilities to the point where it is a manageable problem.
A manageable problem. Yeah, that’s kind of open to any definition you want to hang on it, isn’t it? It’s business school talk. What defines a “manageable problem” when talking about religious fanatics killing American citizens (as well as middle easterners by the thousands) to taunt the US president? Are we there if they only behead one American journalist next year? If they only crucify half the number they did this year, are we “managing” the “problem”? Oh, and by the way, what ever happened to R2P? Only applicable to Libya? And boy, did we “manage” that “problem” well. Our embassy is now a jihadi swim club.
[W]hat we’ve got to do is make sure that we are organizing the Arab world, the Middle East, the Muslim world, along with the international community to isolate this cancer.
Organize the Middle East? I’d laugh out loud if what was going on wasn’t so dangerous. This guy couldn’t organize a one man parade. He couldn’t lead a horse to water after a 10 mile run in the desert. And coherence, as in a coherent policy? Forget about that. Ed Morrissey nails it:
The failure demonstrated by Obama and his administration over the last several weeks and months as the ISIS threat grew and metastasized is, at its core, a leadership crisis. Forget being the leader of the free world; this President can’t even lead his own team within one coherent message and strategy. As ABC’s State Department reporter Ali Weinberg remarked yesterday, this was the message just from one single day: “We’re going to destroy ISIS. Or manage them. Or shrink their sphere of influence. Or follow them to the gates of hell.”
With that failure to generate a united and coherent approach to ISIS among his own team, how could anyone expect the President to lead the world against this new terrorist army and the threat it poses to the region and the world?
They can’t, and he won’t. Oh the “world” may do something, but it won’t be because of any leadership from Obama, et. al. It will be because they’re awake to the threat that is ISIS and finally develop the intestinal fortitude to act. And the US? Like Libya, we’ll “lead from behind”.
What in the world could possibly go wrong with that?
When Barack Obama was running for the presidency, there were a number of people who warned he wasn’t ready for prime time – that he’d never really “done anything or run anything”. That he had never demonstrated any penchant for leadership at any time in his life, nor had he ever had any executive experience. That most of his adult life had been political campaigns for the next highest office – moving directly from one to the next with few if any accomplishments in-between.
Those people were shouted down by their “betters” claiming Mr. Obama was hip, wicked smart, charming, “with it”, confident and a master of social media. He would change the dynamic in Washington, charm the world into doing his bidding and calm the rising seas etc., etc., etc.
Eliot Cohen, in a Wall Street Journal op/ed, says instead, we’ve got a bunch of people in the administration that basically and unsurprisingly act like teenagers:
Often, members of the Obama administration speak and, worse, think and act, like a bunch of teenagers. When officials roll their eyes at Vladimir Putin‘s seizure of Crimea with the line that this is “19th-century behavior,” the tone is not that different from a disdainful remark about a hairstyle being “so 1980s.” When administration members find themselves judged not on utopian aspirations or the purity of their motives—from offering “hope and change” to stopping global warming—but on their actual accomplishments, they turn sulky. As teenagers will, they throw a few taunts (the president last month said the GOP was offering economic policies that amount to a “stinkburger” or a “meanwich”) and stomp off, refusing to exchange a civil word with those of opposing views.
In a searing memoir published in January, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates describes with disdain the trash talk about the Bush administration that characterized meetings in the Obama White House. Like self-obsessed teenagers, the staffers and their superiors seemed to forget that there were other people in the room who might take offense, or merely see the world differently. Teenagers expect to be judged by intentions and promise instead of by accomplishment, and their style can be encouraged by irresponsible adults (see: the Nobel Prize committee) who give awards for perkiness and promise rather than achievement.
If the United States today looks weak, hesitant and in retreat, it is in part because its leaders and their staff do not carry themselves like adults. They may be charming, bright and attractive; they may have the best of intentions; but they do not look serious. They act as though Twitter and clenched teeth or a pout could stop invasions or rescue kidnapped children in Nigeria. They do not sound as if, when saying that some outrage is “unacceptable” or that a dictator “must go,” that they represent a government capable of doing something substantial—and, if necessary, violent—if its expectations are not met. And when reality, as it so often does, gets in the way—when, for example, the Syrian regime begins dousing its opponents with chlorine gas, as it has in recent weeks, despite solemn deals and red lines—the administration ignores it, hoping, as teenagers often do, that if they do not acknowledge a screw-up no one else will notice.
It is a pretty fair and devastating summary of an immature, selfie-taking, hashtag loving administration. Intentions speak louder than action in their world. They don’t take criticism well. And they are about as petty as it comes when talking about their opposition. They demand respect for the man in office, but the man in office shows no respect to those whose views differ from him.
He is also given very little if any respect in the world because he’s really done nothing to earn it (and quite a bit to unearn any he had when he took office). Hostile nations, knowing how thin skinned this administration is, openly taunt the President and his policies. They fear no reprisal from the US. Iran recently declared victory over the US in Syria. Russia – well Russia has simply decided the US isn’t a real threat as it plays out its expansionist intentions. Even our allies have openly criticized the administration for their inept handling of foreign policy.
We live in a very dangerous world, one in which the predators are always looking for an opening (usually in the form of a power vacuum) of which they can take advantage. This administration has provided no leadership whatsoever during its tenure and that power vacuum has developed during our unilateral withdrawal from our previously prominent position in the world. And just like a bunch of teenagers, this administration is sure that it is the fault of everyone but themselves.
After all, their intentions were pure … or something.
Congressional “mid-term” elections have, for years, been seen as a referrendum on the President. When the nation is pleased with a President, his party gains seats in Congress and when not pleased, that party suffers by losing seats in Congress. Well, Democrats, gird thy loins, because here it comes:
President Obama’s job approval rating hits a record low this week, as a majority of Americans say his administration has mostly failed at growing the economy, creating jobs, improving health care and the country’s image.
That’s according to a Fox News poll released Wednesday.
For the first time in a Fox News poll, fewer than four voters in ten — 38 percent — approve of President Obama’s job performance. Fifty-four percent disapprove. Before now Obama’s worst job rating was 40-55 percent in November 2013. Last month 42 percent approved and 53 percent disapproved (February 2014).
Approval of Obama among Democrats stands at 71 percent, near its 69 percent record low (September 2013). For independents, 28 percent approve, which is also near the 25 percent all-time low among this group (July 2013). And approval of Obama among Republicans hits a new low of five percent.
Overall, a 59-percent majority thinks the White House has mostly failed at creating jobs, up from 52 percent who said the same in October 2012. Likewise, 56 percent feel it has failed on growing the economy. That’s also up from 52 percent.
Etc. Etc. Etc. Even the Senate majority now is seen to be at risk and no one believes the Dems have a chance in the House.
And the only consistent thing in Obama poll numbers is the drop. He’s near historic lows in approval among many groups to include Democrats. They’re not likely to get better anytime soon.
The empty suit is finally beginning to wear on the electorate.
But I have to ask, how can a country stay so willingly blind that it took until now to see this inept imposter for what he really is?
Yes I know Peggy Noonan was one of “those” on the right to who thought Barack Obama would “deliver” (deliver what I’m not sure but she thought he’d be a welcome change to Bush). And, in a weird and fascinating way it has been fun watching her discover how unbelievably wrong she was (not that it shouldn’t have been obvious from the beginning). Frankly, it makes you a little skeptical concerning just about anything she might say that isn’t based in observable fact.
However, I think her opinion today is just about right:
Because when I imagine Barack Obama’s State of the Union, I see a handsome, dignified man standing at the podium and behind him Joe Biden, sleeping. And next to him John Boehner, snoring. And arrayed before the president the members, napping.
No one’s really listening to the president now. He has been for five years a nonstop wind-up talk machine. Most of it has been facile, bland, the same rounded words and rounded sentiments, the same soft accusations and excuses. I see him enjoying the sound of his voice as the network newsman leans forward eagerly, intently, nodding at the pearls, enacting interest, for this is the president and he is the anchorman and surely something important is being said with two such important men engaged.
But nothing interesting was being said! Looking back on this presidency, it has from the beginning been a 17,000 word New Yorker piece in which, calmly, sonorously, with his lovely intelligent voice, the president says nothing, or little that is helpful, insightful or believable. “I’m not a particularly ideological person.” “It’s hard to anticipate events over the next three years.” “I don’t really even need George Kennan right now.” “I am comfortable with complexity.” “Our capacity to do some good . . . is unsurpassed, even if nobody is paying attention.”
Yeah, she hasn’t quite lost the “fan girl” crush she had on Obama, but the stark reality of what this man is … or perhaps isn’t … has finally begun to set in. Reality is a bitch and she doesn’t let you play pretend for long before she begins slapping you around the head and shoulders with what “is”. And what “is” with this presidency is “over”.
No one trusts this man. He’s been an incompetent buffoon. And the pity is, it was entirely predictable. In fact, we did predict it. We talked about the presidency not being an OJT position. That you needed experience having run a major organization before (you know, executive experience?). Or someone that had actually done something other than write his own autobigraphy at 40. If not, you’re likely to be well above your competency level and it will show.
But some sort of ability to suspend disbelief infected the chattering classes and they began coughing, sneezing and throwing up a myth about this empty suit. At the end of the 2008 campaign he had somehow become magic.
In reality he was the Wizard and the Noonan’s of the world, 5 years late and trillions of dollars short have finally … FINALLY … begun to peek behind the curtain where the rest of us have been sending SOS’s for years. And they’re discovering he doesn’t even know what the levers are or do, much less how to pull them.
And this discovery has led to more discovery … such as that above. He’s mostly irrelevant and ignored. Someone we must suffer through to get back to business. And so when he speaks … well, no one listens. Oh, they may show up, and they may even feign paying attention, but when you’ve heard the same speech and all it’s variations for 5 years and nothing has happened that was promised (and a lot has happened that wasn’t promised and isn’t good), you tend to not pay attention any more.
For a speechifier who thinks words equal action, I can’t imagine a worse fate.
They’re finally “coming home to roost” as Mr. Obama’s favorite preacher might say:
According to a new CNN/ORC International survey, only four out of 10 Americans believe Mr. Obama can manage the federal government effectively. Fifty-three percent don’t view him as a strong and decisive leader. And 56 percent say he does not agree with them on important issues and he does not inspire confidence.
But the numbers on the president’s personal characteristics should alarm the White House most of all. More than half (53 percent) believe he’s not honest and trustworthy, while 56 percent say he’s not a person they admire.
Each of these figures are all-time records for Mr. Obama in CNN polling.
In their fascinating behind-the-scenes book on the 2012 election, Double Down, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann write that the campaign’s research showed “that there was a deep well of sympathy for Obama among voters.” In focus groups after the first debate, they write, “people offered excuse after excuse for his horrific presentation. In Florida, one woman said, almost protectively, ‘I just bet you he wasn’t feeling well.’”
That deep well of sympathy–that willingness to give the president the benefit of the doubt and the attachment and connection voters felt for Mr. Obama–has been crucial to his success for his entire political life. He has always been viewed as a likeable and decent man, even when his campaign employed fairly ruthless tactics. But the days of broad public faith and trust in this president appear to be over. And no wonder.
The fact that the president knowingly misled the public on such a crucial element of his health-care program so many times, over such a long period of time, with such apparent ease, has penetrated the public consciousness in a way nothing else ever has. Incompetence has now been twinned to mendacity. And not surprisingly, that deep well of sympathy is drying up.
The characteristics which have taken such a beating are the one’s that kill a reputation – honesty, trustworthiness and admiration. You can forgive a goof. You can even forgive a certain level of incompetence if you have a deep reservoir of admiration for someone based on your belief that they’re an honest and trustworthy person.
Obama’s killed that with this monstrosity he claims as his legacy. The Democrats too suffer from that albatross.
The usual excuse makers are having trouble ginning up the enthusiasm for attempting to support this president. Why? Because their honesty and trustworthiness are at stake if they do. Oh, sure, there are those that are so much a party hack that they’re going to sputter and spout the usual reality defying nonsense. Debbie Wasserman Shultz, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are the poster children of this breed.
But as mentioned many times before, reality is a bitch and she has shown up after 5 years of this nonsense with a vengeance. She is taking no prisoners. I can think of a million cliches that fit this situation and none of them are complementary to the President or Democrats.
By the very way they went about putting this law through the legislative process, they deserve each and every negative thing that happens to them. It is so bad, that Obama and company are left with trying to hijack Thanksgiving in order to save this awful law.
Barack Obama is the lamest of lame ducks (and that pretty much includes internationally as well, for mostly the same reasons). Because what he messed with went so badly and the fact that what he messed with was so important and personal to all Americans, you better believe any “well of sympathy” has dried up. And according to some reports, the worst is yet to come (the possibility that up to 80 million Americans will be dropped from their employer plans).
It is difficult to survey the wreckage of his reputation and not realize that this was all brought on by his own incompetence, arrogance and narcism. What’s interesting is he is a product of his ideology. He is its crowning achievement. And he demonstrates better than any tome, op-ed or television piece how bankrupt that ideology is.
Whether anyone will really pick up on that is probably arguable. But there it is – he is indeed the prefect product of liberalism. And, as anyone who has eyes and a will to actually see, the emperor has no clothes.
Edward Luce, writing in the Financial Times, certainly seems to think so:
Anyone wondering about the scale of the anti-Obama backlash should look at its impact on the 2016 US presidential race. Both major parties are looking for candidates with genuine executive experience. The Republican list of hopefuls is filling up with sitting governors. Among Democrats, hopes rest mainly with Hillary Clinton. Should Elizabeth Warren, the popular senator from Massachusetts, enter the fray Mrs Clinton’s riposte would trip off the tongue. Ms Warren has no governing experience, she could say. And we all know the risks of that.
Having authored an inspirational politics, President Barack Obama’s difficulties are spawning a new fashion for perspiration. Given its limited powers, the strength of the US presidency derives largely from its occupant’s credibility.
Faith in Mr Obama’s competence was already negative. Doubts now extend to his personal integrity. A majority of Americans tell pollsters that they no longer believe he is always telling the truth. Were Mr Obama in a different system, he would be fending off a leadership challenge or facing a snap election. Since the US constitution rules out those options, Mr Obama is in danger of becoming a permanent lame duck.
I’d say that was a pretty fair summary of the depth of Obama’s problems. It reminds many of the George H. W. Bush “read my lips” moment, only on steroids. In both cases, personal credibility suffered. It is also interesting to read the first paragraph. Suddenly the experience of actually having run something or done something besides promote yourself all your life is in demand.
But Luce makes some important points – especially with the line, “Given its limited powers, the strength of the US presidency derives largely from its occupant’s credibility.” Mr. Obama has trampled his. And, unfortunately for Democrats, he continues to do so. Luce gives a bit of insight for that as well:
But Mr Obama’s problems derive chiefly from his tendency to react politically to events, rather than from a lack of time. His fumbling response to the woes engulfing the Affordable Care Act show how hard it is for him to kick the habit – even if the remainder of his presidency depends on it.
Pinpoint accuracy in describing the major problem of this administration. As I’ve said many times, it is all politics all the time with them. And for such a politically astute group while on the campaign trail, they are incredibly inept in the use of politics while governing. That’s mainly because the only experience they have is with politics – certainly not with governing.
Mr Obama has continually promised more from his signature healthcare reform than it can deliver. In addition to telling Americans that they could keep their insurance if they liked it – a pledge that millions now know was untrue – Mr Obama said the law would extend coverage to the one in six uninsured Americans, reduce costs for the other five and improve delivery for all six.
There ought to have been more scepticism about whether he could make a thing universally available, higher quality and cheaper all at the same time. Only price controls and public provision could conceivably have done that. And Mr Obama had ruled those out early on.
There ought to have been? There was plenty of skepticism at the time among those who actually took the time to think it through. And so far the only promises that have been kept are those the skeptics said would happen. The fact is this was panned by the entire right, but that argument against was virtually ignored by the main stream press who, on the whole, thought this was a dandy idea. There was plenty of skepticism … just no one willing to listen to it. Instead, they chose to listen to the snake-0il-salesman-in-chief.
So is Obama’s presidency failing? Of course it is. It is a presidency built on a cult of personality. And once that which held it together and gave it its strength and resiliency is destroyed, the whole house of cards collapses. Mr. Obama’s credibility is in tatters. While there are those who will claim this is recoverable, it’s not. Even if they finally get the website fixed, they then have to deal with the sticker shock so many are going to experience when they see higher premiums and higher deductions and feel lied too again.
Is the Obama presidency failing? In a word, ‘yes’. And if, as Luce claims, Obama is relegated to “permanent lame duck status”, so be it. That may give the country an outside chance to survive this administration.